The obscene profits of commercial scholarly publishers

A snip-it of Elsevier’s crazy profits…

Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week

In an article that many of you will now have seen, Heather Morrison demonstrated the enormous profits of STM (Scientific, Technical and Medical) scholarly publishers.  The figures are taken from her in-progress dissertation which in turn cites an article in The Economist.  It all checks out.  I emphasise this because I found the figures so hard to believe.  Here they are again: profits as a percentage of revenue for commercial STM publishers in 2010 or early 2011:

  • Elsevier: £724m on revenue of £2b — 36%
  • Springer‘s Science+Business Media: £294m on revenue of £866m — 33.9%
  • John Wiley & Sons: $106m on revenue of $253m — 42%
  • Academic division of Informa plc: £47m on revenue of £145m — 32.4%

So it’s evident that profits on the order of 35% are pretty typical for commercial STM publishers, and that Elsevier’s figures are not an aberration.  Not only…

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2 responses to “The obscene profits of commercial scholarly publishers”

  1. themarnatt says :

    I still cant believe libraries pay well over 1 million dollars for a bundle of scientific journals. I always got mad at $35 an article, I had no idea the amount of money that was really going to these companies.

  2. keshain14 says :

    I knew it was bad, but seeing the actually numbers is just sickening. Great post! Depressing, but great :).

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